TODAY   |  October 21, 2009

Home buyers fight frustrations to get deals

Oct. 21: A short sale of a home can mean a great deal for the buyer, but is it worth the hassle? NBC’s Michael Okwu reports.

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>>> back at 7:44 with a great way to get a deal on a home if you have plenty of patience. as nbc's michael okwu tells us, short sales are anything but short.

>> reporter: it was a moment adreanna tisherman thought might never happen. the single mom of 7-year-old gia made a bid on this townhouse in february, but she just moved in, eight months later.

>> i had nervous breakdowns, a lot of tears, a lot of not understanding. i felt very disrespected because they had at one point told me that i was just a number and just a file.

>> reporter: tisherman got a deal $150,000 less than what the previous owner paid, but at a price.

>> i ended up living in a hotel for a couple of days because i needed to be vacant from my apartment.

>> reporter: she bought the house in a short sale. that's when the lenders agree to take less than what they're owed on the property.

>> we're seeing a lot of short sales because house prices have declined.

>> reporter: shelly and rich hedvina put a bid on this three-bedroom house in california back in january. daughter dana was 2 months old. now she's about to turn 1 and they're still waiting in a rental and living out of boxes.

>> okay, that's christmas.

>> for the most part, i'm just frustrated. i want to be settled. i want to be in a house. i want to have a nursery. i want to know where my kids are going to school.

>> reporter: short sales have made up 12% of all sales this year, but getting in clearly requires stamina. why? lots of red tape . the seller has to prove financial hardship. then there's coordinating between the multiple mortgage lenders and liens. experts say it takes about 2 1/2 months for the banks to respond to short sale request for homes like this. 2 1/2 months just to get the ball rolling. that's twice as long as it took a year ago. mortgage bankers know there's a problem -- too much volume, too little manpower.

>> we are looking for more people, but we have to hire qualified people that understand the process.

>> reporter: and short sales can be tough on sellers, too.

>> 4/14, they lost the paperwork they said they had found the day before.

>> reporter: maryann phillips put her house on the market back in march but didn't close until october.

>> i had nine offers on it, and they took so long to process the paperwork. they had all walked. they had found either other properties or they just lost their patience.

>> reporter: in fact, 60% of short sales never pan out. after all the hardship, adreanna tisherman says she would never do it again. but then, at times, she's glad she did.

>> this is really home. it's part of us right now.

>> reporter: for "today," michael okwu , nbc news, valencia, california.

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